Feasting in Portland: Another epic food weekend

Fried baloney sandwich, by Chef Sean Brock. Rocked my world.

Fried baloney sandwich, by Chef Sean Brock. Rocked my world.

So for the second in year in a row, Portland has hosted Feast, an extravagant food festival that lasts for four days and bring in chefs of international fame. Last year I attended a few events (primarily the Night Market and the Oregon Bounty), this year I attended a few new ones, including the rather exclusive High Comfort dinner.

Here’s a peek into my time at Feast…

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Summer succotash & impromptu dance parties

Summer Succotash (a la April Bloomfield)

Summer Succotash (a la April Bloomfield)

My friend DB and I try to cook together as often as possible — switching off Saturdays so we each get a reprieve from traveling (we live on opposite ends of town). Cooking at his house is always a very different experience than cooking at my own.

I’m courteous with my neighbors, but we certainly aren’t close, and on my weekends to host our cook-fests, it’s almost always just the two of us. DB, on the other hand, seems to know everyone within a two-mile radius of his place, and they know they are welcome to stop by and visit whenever he’s home.

At his house, I’ve become accustomed to having a crowd of hungry, sweaty and slightly intoxicated softball players show up (his housemate plays in a league) or perhaps just random neighbors who heard tales of homemade pizza being made. In the beginning, I was a little awkward, as I rarely saw the same person twice. But now there’s a group of people that I feel comfortable with, and the conversation flows as easily as the beer does.

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Cooking my way through A Girl and Her Pig: Adobo à la April

I have really been in love with April Bloomfield this year. It started with her Lyonnasise-style vinegar chicken recipe. I was so blown away by it that my husband bought me her cookbook as a gift. The first thing I made was her lentil and chickpea salad because it sounded so wonderful. The second thing I made was this recipe — her chicken adobo.

I think I really wanted to make it because it calls for chicken braised with copious amounts of garlic and vinegar, much like her other chicken recipe. However, this one also contains plenty of ginger and soy sauce, thus it has an entirely different (Filipino) spin.

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A Girl and Her Lentil & Chickpea Salad

I’ve mentioned a few times that my husband is a chef. While this does mean that I eat very well, it also means that I am constantly pleading with him to stop buying cookbooks. We had to buy a huge IKEA bookshelf unit a month ago and it was immediately filled with all of the cookbooks that he had been storing hoarding at work. Since I keep trying to make him stop buying more, he has slyly found a way to work around that. He now buys them as “gifts” for me.

This is why I got a copy of the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook for Christmas  — which, yes, I admit, is fantastically fun. This is also why, when in passing I mentioned a blog post I had read regarding chef April Bloomfield, her cookbook A Girl and Her Pig showed up on our doorstep a week later.

I don’t even know why I was surprised.

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Stay Away, Vampire! Chicken

Now I could have called this dish by its rightful name, vinegar-braised chicken, but when you see the amount of garlic I put in this sucker, I think my name makes just as much sense. I found this recipe by chef April Bloomfield in a fairly new issue of Food & Wine and when I gave my husband a choice of chicken dishes to have for dinner last week, he selected this one. And holy bajeezus, I am so happy I didn’t wait to make it because it was so good! Since then I have been telling everyone to try this chicken. And I figured what better way to push it than write a little blog post?

First off, let’s talk poultry. I grew up in a household that adores chicken. We ate a whole lot of roasted birds growing up, routinely eating the leftovers in my mom’s turkey tetrazzini or in her famous chicken casserole. It really is famously delicious — to the point where my drunk friends once raided my fridge to demolish the pan of leftover casserole I had stashed away. It truly is a good thing I was equally inebriated or that would have been a friendship-ender. I kid you not — I almost cut a bitch.

Anyways, poultry has a remained a large part of my diet. To my husband’s deep-seated sadness I make almost every dish that calls for ground beef with lean ground turkey, which I buy by the case and keep in our freezer. I could easily eat a turkey sandwich every day for lunch and follow it with chicken for dinner and probably make it weeks before ever getting bored. It’s in my blood.

My husband is the exact opposite. He blames the masses of inept diners who order chicken at the restaurant he cooks at for his hatred of this delicious bird. The main problem is that most of the people who order chicken (especially when faced with much more interesting choices) are picky eaters to begin with. They always want their chicken cooked to death and then complain about it being dry. It’s things like this that make my husband reach awesome levels of rage.

So I could already see the not-at-all concealed loathing when I asked him to choose between two chicken entrees. But, hey, if I’m cooking you don’t really get to complain. Or you can complain, and then eat a hot pocket for dinner. It’s all the same to me!

Wow, I have digressed.

Try this chicken! It is easy on the pocketbook and so painfully simple that there is no reason to resist it. Look at the beautiful pictures of it and salivate. And make life easy — just use whole chicken thighs — that’s the best part of the bird anyways. Also do as I did and throw in about four times as much garlic as called for. You’ll thank me for it later.

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